New Year’s Resolution 1: Acknowledge and Face Your Fears

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.

I hope your holidays were a beautiful time with family and friends. Now it’s almost the New Year…a time looking back to see what we have accomplished and looking ahead to make changes if necessary and set new goals. Our fears often hold us back…when you acknowledge and face your fears, you can move ahead. Children enjoy what is familiar and often fear changes in their lives.

My Perfect Picture Book Friday pick examines this theme.

Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport

Written Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Illustrated by Byron Barton

Publisher: MacMillan Publishing Company (1980)

Ages: 5 and up


Overcoming fears, moving, new places, travel, trying new things


From Amazon:

“I live at 165 East 95th Street, and I’m going to stay here forever.” says the young hero firmly. After all, out West nobody plays baseball because they’re too busy chasing buffaloes, and you have to ride a horse to school even if you don’t know how, and you can’t sit down because of the cactus. But his parents are moving West, and they say he has to go, too.

Once there, however, the boy doesn’t meet the Gila monsters he expected. And on the ride to his new home (by taxi, not horse) he discovers the West is neither as different nor as bad as he’d imagined.”

Why do I like this book:

Many people want to stay just where they are! And most children don’t look forward to moving to a new place that will be very different from what they were used to. This book will help any child who is facing this type of upheaval. I love the preconceived notions (mostly due to his best friend’s dire predictions) that slowly but surely are blown away as the main character travels to his new home out west with his family…and discovers that things (and people) are not all that different.

Related Activities:

In the story, the little boy worries that he will have to eat chili and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Why not have your child help you make this delicious vegetarian chili…just perfect for a cold winter’s supper! Children who help with meal preparation are more likely to try new foods.


You will need: 2 Tbs olive oil, 1 cup chopped onion, 2 Tb minced garlic, 2 cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh), 1 cup canned red kidney beans and 1 cup pinto beans (rinse and drain the beans), ½ cup diced carrot, 2 tsp chili powder (optional), 1 Tb honey, ½ cup grated cheddar cheese, ½ cup yogurt and a large pan with a lid.

  1. Heat oil in pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions…cook a few minutes while stirring.
  3. Add garlic.
  4. Add tomatoes, beans, carrots, chili powder and honey.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Garnish each serving with grated cheese and a dollop of yogurt.
  7. Serves 6-8.
  8. Important tip: You may want to do some of the prep beforehand…such as chopping the onions and mincing the garlic…we want our young cooks to be smiling, not crying. In addition, your child can help measure and mix into a bowl…and then you can add the ingredients to the pan…we don’t want young ones near hot pans or stoves.

More resources here:


Did your children get lots of new toys this Christmas? Or did you go for a more simple approach?

Young children don’t need fancy electronic gadgets…they only need a good picture book, a few simple inexpensive art supplies (like paper, crayons or markers, safety scissors and glue stick) and your positive participation.

If you are looking for a great resource that will give you 100 picture book summaries and easy matching craft and simple cooking activities like the vegetarian chili recipe above, you can purchase a copy on Amazon of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.

show me how build your child's self-esteem, positive parental participation

At $24.95, this book makes a PERFECT gift for any parent or teacher of children ages 2-8…as well as for daycare providers and grandparents.  No batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination!   Buy your copy today!

create a peaceful home,,free bookmarks,show me how build your child's self-esteem

My website is still offering free shipping AND a beautiful hand-crafted fabric bookmark…limited time only!  Offer ends December 30th!

About two years ago, a New York Times article questioned the importance of picture books and predicted that parents would be opting for chapter books for their children instead. Now a recent New York Times article seems to be debating that premise:

What are your thoughts?

5 Simple Steps to a Happier, Healthier 2011

5 Simple Steps to a Happier, Healthier 2011

The great thing about the New Year is that it gives us the opportunity to make a fresh start…in just about anything!  I know that at the end of every December, I sit down, look back over my progress (or lack of it) and make a list of resolutions that I hope will help me do better.  Many people don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions…but they work for me.  We can make broad, sweeping resolutions like EAT HEALTHIER…and we can make more specific resolutions such as I WILL STOP EATING BEFORE I FEEL FULL.

“To insure good health, eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness and maintain an interest in life.” William Londen

So here are my 5 simple steps to a happier, healthier 2011.

  1. Eat Lightly: many of us eat too much of the wrong things…nutritionists recommend eating 6 small meals a day instead of 3 big ones.  In addition, make every meal count by using more fresh foods instead of highly processed ones.  Should you buy organic?  Yes, if you can.  The most important foods to buy organic are meat (including beef, pork and poultry), milk (and other dairy products), eggs, peaches, nectarines,, apples, bell peppers, celery, strawberries, cherries, imported grapes, pears, potatoes, coffee, and baby foods and juices.  If you are a parent, you are probably the one who decides what to buy and what to serve.  For 2011, I am going to resolve to buy organic when I purchase the above items.
  2. Breathe Deeply: I know it’s hard to find the time to exercise, especially when you work, take care of a home and family and have lots of other things that take your time and energy.  However, moving at least 30 minutes a day will provide great health benefits…and make you feel more positive.  Resolve to be more healthy and more positive for your children and for yourself.  Dance while you clean the house or take a walk while listening to great music.  Get together with a friend and exercise together with a new tape in your living room if you don’t have the time or money to go to a gym.  In addition, take time every day to meditate…even if it is just for 5 minutes.  It will refresh and renew your spirit.  For 2011, I am going to resolve to walk a mile twice a week, do my 30 minute low impact aerobic exercises four times a week and meditate 5 minutes EVERY day.
  3. Live Moderately: This rule applies to all aspects of our lives…eating, drinking, sleeping, surfing the Internet. J  I think if people would get enough rest…and eat, drink, exercise and pursue all other activities in moderation, the soaring medical costs in this country would decline.  The cells in our bodies repair themselves during restful sleep…and people tend to gain weight if they are sleep deprived.  For 2011, I am going to resolve to do less computer work so that I can get to bed at a reasonable hour so that I can sleep the required 7-8 hours.  
  4. Cultivate Cheerfulness:  Doesn’t it lift your spirits when someone greets you cheerfully, in a store, on the street or on the phone?  Thinking and acting cheerfully does have a positive effect…on EVERYONE!  Cultivating cheerfulness does not mean ignoring problems or pretending that everything is rosy when it is not.  If something is troubling you, please share it with someone who cares about you.  Set in motion steps that will change the situation.  If it is a situation that can’t be changed, join a support group or ask for help.  For 2011, I am going to resolve to let others know how much I appreciate their help and encouragement.
  5. Maintain An Interest In Life:  Isn’t it amazing when we see elderly people who get college degrees after they have retired from a life-long career?  Or middle-school children who raise money for the children in a village that is situated thousands of miles from where they live? How can you maintain an interest in life?  Read a book about something you always wanted to find out about, volunteer in a local school or hospital, reach outside your normal routine to help someone…the possibilities are endless.  For 2011, I am going to resolve to reach out and volunteer in our local schools by reading stories and doing craft projects with the Pre-K and kindergarten classes.

So there you have it…my 5 simple steps to a happier healthier 2011. 

Are you making New Year’s resolutions this year?  I’d love to hear them if you are!

Happy Holidays to All and may the coming Year bring Peace to at least some parts of the World!

Have you kept your New Year’s resolutions?

Maybe “kept” is the wrong word.  Perhaps a better phrase would be “followed through on”.  “Kept” might mean you put it in a drawer and forgot about it.  Out of sight…out of mind.  Do people even make New Year’s resolutions anymore?

I am definitely a “list” person…so making New Year’s resolutions was always something I looked forward to doing.  Every year, on January 1st, I’d sit down with a fresh sheet of paper, a sharpened pencil and a heart filled with high hopes and expectations.  I’d think about what I wanted to accomplish in my life for the up-coming year…healthwise, emotionally and academically.  Drink 8 glasses of water every day.   Get to bed early.  Walk or exercise daily for at least 30 minutes.  Be compassionate.  Speak kindly to others.  Read something uplifting every day. 

When my children were growing up, we sat down once or twice together and made our New Year’s resolutions.  I think this was a wonderful family activity that might create a better parent-child bond…sharing the lists might help parents learn more about who their children are…and might help children learn more about who their parents are.

As I’ve matured, most of the items on the list have remained the same.  But, I’ve added others.  Stretch my mind.  Do things that are outside my comfort zone.  Stand up for what I believe.  Speak out when I should.  And, just as importantly, keep quiet when I should. (Good advice to parents of grown children)

Do I follow through on all of my resolutions every day of the year?  No, I don’t.  Do I beat myself up for “dropping the ball” sometimes?  A little, but I try not to.  Will I make a list of New Year’s resolutions next year?  You bet I will.  For me, it sets the tone for the direction I want to move in.   It encourages me to tackle projects I might otherwise choose to postpone or ignore.  It helps me to  be a better me.